In the past few years, hiking has exploded onto the scene with it becoming more and more popular. Some hiking trails run across the world’s most beautiful hotspots and it can be such a unique experience whether it’s a small local trail or the biggest the world has to offer. Though, as most will know, hiking can be very physical and comes with a great demand on the body. Hikers from all walks of life need to be extremely cautious because danger is there at every turn.
Yet, many hikers, especially those with little or no experience don’t take safety to heart. Seasoned hikers have already learned the hard way when it comes to staying safe whilst hiking and newcomers will need to do the same. So, here are a few things you may want to know about when it comes to staying safe while hiking in the great outdoors.
Decide On a Hiking Trail Suitable For Your Hiking Ability
Everyone has their own hiking level or ability and you need to be extremely aware of this before you set off hiking. If you are just starting out, you ideally don’t want to choose a hard arduous hiking trail because you’ll likely struggle and miss your deadlines which can be off-putting. You need to choose a location that is safe for your hiking abilities and if it means sticking with the ‘baby’ hikes so be it. It will be much safer for you and you’re really supposed to stick to the hikes or trails your ability is suited for.
Hike with a Companion or With a Group
Thousands of hikers each year go off hiking alone and while many are suited to this style, many are not. Now, seasoned hikers will know the dangers of hiking alone and that is their decision but newcomers don’t always understand the risks. For safety’s sake, you should look at hiking with others especially when you haven’t had much previous experience. Consider traveling with a group of fellow hikers so that you always have others around you should you run into difficulty. Also, if someone in your hiking group falls ill, you are on hand to help too.
Even if you don’t travel with a large group of hikers, you should still consider traveling with one or two companions. The reason why is because if you go off to a remote area and get hurt and find yourself unable to call for help, or move, you need someone to go back and get help. This is crucial when you’re heading to an area you haven’t hiked in before or aren’t familiar with.
Know Where the Ranger Stations Are Located
Once you have chosen an area where you want to hike, you not only need to get to know the land but get to know where the Ranger Stations are. In hiking areas in regular use, there are often several Ranger Stations dotted along the way and these are vital to know. You should never go on a hike when you do not know where Ranger Stations are. If there are bad storms, you can make your way to one of these outposts for help or to seek shelter in extreme cases.
These stations are usually manned most days, if not twenty-four-seven, so if you ever find yourself in trouble, head to them. They are going to be one of the best places to seek help should something go wrong on a hike.
Let Others Know Of Your Plans
It doesn’t matter if you are heading out alone or with a group of people, someone at home should know exactly where you are going. A family member or friend should know your travel plans starting from when you are leaving your home and on which date you are going to start your hike too. You should write an itinerary and give a copy of it to someone at home; as well as grid co-ordinates you plan to cover also.
This is important because should you fail to call in on a certain date or don’t make it back when you should, your friend can call the authorities and find you hopefully. You of course probably don’t plan to get hurt or run into difficulties but it can happen and you must be prepared for all eventualities. Leaving note with a family member can ensure you are never left out in the cold with no help.
Don’t Cross Into Closed Land
You are going to cover a huge amount of land when it comes to hiking and there will be times when you run into closed sections. Hiking trails can run all year round but sometimes, sections of a trail can be closed off due to some dangers with dangerous crossing points, peaks and all sorts and you must stay clear of them. Whenever you find a piece of land with signs up warning everyone to stay clear or stay out, you need to do so.
Do not cross into land which has been closed to the public whether it appears to be safe or otherwise.
Be Wary Of Your Footing and Remain Physically Fit
When you are nearing edge tops and cliffs, you must be very careful of each step taken. Rocks underneath your feet may appear to be safe but they aren’t always so you must take extreme care. Have a trusted foothold before you step otherwise you may fall or slip; it may be best to stick to developed trails with solid footing underneath. However, you need to be physically fit for any hike.
Now, physically fit doesn’t mean you must be extremely thin but rather able to handle the hiking conditions. You must be able to carry all necessary equipment and gear as well as be able to complete the hike without needing help. No one needs to be thin to be able to hike but rather be able to complete the hike; there is a very big difference between physically fit and thin. You just need to be fit and able to hike.
Check All Equipment and Wear Sensible Clothing
Every single time you go out on a hiking trail, you’re going to need a certain amount of equipment. Sometimes, you won’t need a lot of equipment but it depends on where you choose to hike and the weather conditions too. You need to construct a check-list of all needed items for the journey and double check you have everything before setting out to ensure nothing has been left behind.
Pack warm clothing for nighttime, even if its summer; at night it can get extremely cool and the higher altitude you reach, the colder it’ll become. Don’t forget to pack a second pair of hiking boots should you require a fall-back pair. You should always have plenty of water and food for the journey there and back.
Be Weather Conscious
The weather can turn very easily at the best of times and you do not want to be caught in a violent storm. You absolutely must be aware of what the weather conditions are going to be like in the area you will be going to. You also need to be aware of signs the weather is starting to change; usually there will be subtle signs that give you some inclination of trouble ahead. Take shelter whenever bad weather hits because it can be a risk to hike in bad weather.
Always Set Up Camp before Dark
You cannot hike when it’s dark outside simply because it’s extremely dangerous to do so. More accidents occur during the nighttime than the daytime; there is little or no light after dark and even if you have flashlights, it’s just not safe. You need to ensure you stop when the sun sets and only travel during the daytime when there is plenty of light. Set up your camp site at least a good two or three hours before sunset hits and darkness falls and this should give you ample time to set up your tents.
Seasoned hikers absolutely know and understand what steps they must take to ensure their safety and those around them also. They will easily tell you it’s never a simple practice to set off hiking because there are lots of dangers around. However, staying safe is crucial and if you don’t take the proper steps, you may not make it back home in one piece.